Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-5db6c4db9b-k8dct Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-03-23T21:34:26.081Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

12 - Spinoza and the Low Countries

from Part III - Reformation, Renaissance, Enlightenment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 September 2021

Michael Ruse
Florida State University
Stephen Bullivant
St Mary's University, Twickenham, London
Get access


In letter 30, Spinoza states that he intends to write a treatise that would bring to a close the endless stream of accusations of atheism made by common people. Five years later, in 1670, the treatise known as the Theological-Political Treatise (TTP) was published anonymously. However, one could argue that the TTP takes the existence of God for granted. Spinoza berates men who only know God inadequately ‘through created things, of which they know not the causes’ and who accuse of atheism philosophers in possession of real knowledge of God. Such men believe in miracles, which, being ‘in contravention to God’s nature and laws’, inevitably ‘leads them to atheism’. But Spinoza’s attempt to turn the tables did not convince the radical Cartesian Lambert van Velthuysen (1622–85), whose critique of the TTP in letter 42 deals with three main topics, which all seem to imply more than atheism

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Primary Sources

Bayle, P. 1740. Dictionaire historique et critique. 4 vols.Google Scholar
Bayle, P. 1727–31. Oeuvres diverses. 4 vols. La Haye [The Hague]: Par la Compagnie des libraires.Google Scholar
Constandse, A. 1932. Spinoza en het atheisme.Google Scholar
Hemsterhuis, F. 1772. Lettre sur l’homme et ses rapports. Paris: s.n.Google Scholar
Herder, J. G. 1787. Gott: Einige Gespräche. Gotha: Karl Wilhelm Ettinger.Google Scholar
Jacobi, H. H. 1785. Ueber die Lehre des Spinoza in Briefen an den Herrn Moses Mendelssohn. Breslau: Löwe.Google Scholar
Klever, W. A. 1996. Ethicon, ofwel Spinoza’s Ethica vertolkt in tekst en commentaar. Delft: Eburon.Google Scholar
Nieuhoff, B. 1799. Over Spinozisme. Harderwijk: J. van Kasteel.Google Scholar
Opzoomer, C. W. 1846. De wijsbegeerte, den mensch met zich zelven verzoenende. Leiden: J. H. Gebhard.Google Scholar
Van Vloten, J. 1862. Baruch d’Espinoza; zijn leven en schriften, in verband met zijnen en onzen tijd. Amsterdam: F. A. Muller.Google Scholar
Voetius, G. 1648. ‘De atheismo’, in Selectarum disputationum theologicarum Pars I. Utrecht: Joannes à Waesberge, 114226.Google Scholar

Secondary Sources

Barth, H. M. 1971. Atheismus und Orthodoxie. Analysen und Modelle christlicher Apologetik im 17. Jahrhundert. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Van Bunge, W. 1993. ‘Spinoza’s atheïsme’, in Kuypers, E. (ed.) Sporen van Spinoza. Leuven-Apeldoorn: Garant, 89113.Google Scholar
Krop, H. A. 2005. ‘A Dutch Spinozismusstreit: the new view of Spinoza at the end of the eighteenth century’. Lias 32, 185211.Google Scholar
Krop, H. A. 2014. Spinoza, een paradoxale icoon van Nederland. Amsterdam: Prometheus/Bert Bakker.Google Scholar
Krop, H. A. 2019. ‘From religion in the singular to religions in the plural: 1700, a faultline in the conceptual history of religion’, in Spaans, J. and Touber, J. (eds.) Enlightened Religion: From Confessional Churches to Polite Piety in the Dutch Republic. Leiden: Brill, 2159.Google Scholar
Meinsma, K. O. 1896. Spinoza en zijn kring: historisch-kritische studien over hollandsche vrijgeesten. The Hague: M. Nijhoff.Google Scholar
Mori, G. 1999. Bayle philosophe. Paris: Champion.Google Scholar
Nadler, S. 2007. ‘Spinoza, the atheist’. New Humanist 120.Google Scholar
Schröder, W. 1998. Ursprünge des Atheismus. Untersuchungen zur Metaphysik- und Religionskritik des 17. und 18. Jarhunderts. Stuttgart: Frommann-Holzboog.Google Scholar
Vernière, P. 1954. Spinoza et la pensée française avant la révolution. Paris: PUF.Google Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats